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KHI News Service

Adverse medical outcomes act OK’d by House

By KHI NEWS SERVICE | February 25, 2011

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Substitute HB 2069, the "apology act"

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The House today passed 118-1 the adverse medical outcome transparency act, which would allow doctors to apologize to patients without fear that doing so could be used as an admission of guilt in a lawsuit.

House Bill 2069 would provide for a meeting between a patient or patient's family and a medical provider who wishes to express:

"benevolence, sorrow, regret, mistake, error, sympathy, apology, commiseration, condolence, compassion or a general sense of benevolence."

Such statements made during the meeting would not constitute an admission of guilt and could not be used as evidence in court.

The bill would also allow doctors to waive charges for medical care without fear that doing so would be construed as an admission of guilt in court.

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Written testimony in support of HB 2069

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HB 2069 was put forth by Sisters of Charity, operators of one of the bigger Catholic hospital chains in the country, which includes St. Francis in Topeka. The organization's written testimony said that when doctors apologize, patients are less likely to litigate.

"By keeping open the lines of communication between a patient and his or her doctors and hospital during that difficult time, an adversarial relationship and potentially costly lawsuits can be avoided," read the testimony.